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Corus Supports British Forger to Optimize Con-Rod Production

March 28, 2006
Development work with SDF leads to weight reduction and improved machining.

Corus, the international steel company, is working closely with Smethwick Drop Forge (SDF), the UK’s leading forger of connecting rods for passenger and commercial vehicles, to help optimize the design and manufacture of existing con-rods.

SDF approached Corus for help in developing its con-rods to help meet the on-going need of customers to reduce component weight, improve component fatigue performance, and reduce machining to take costs out of the manufacturing process on current production components.

The collaboration between SDF and Corus Engineering Steels, based in Rotherham, UK, combined Corus’ extensive expertise in computer modeling techniques with an in-depth knowledge of materials to evaluate the benefits of using different grades of steel to meet these objectives.

For one customer in particular, SDF wanted to explore several options for optimizing an existing con-rod design. The collaboration first investigated what could be achieved by using traditional air-cooled steels. Corus developed an enhanced machining grade, which has allowed the con-rod to be made from higher strength material, resulting in improved component performance, but importantly without sacrificing throughput on the machining line.

Another key element of the evaluation project was looking at the benefits of switching to fracture split steels. Fracture split steels allow the rod and cap to be separated along a pre-determined fracture line. This ensures a perfect fit between the two halves resulting in engine performance benefits, dramatically reducing the amount of machining the con-rod needs, therefore taking cost out of the production process. The latest steel developments from Corus exhibit increased durability and improved machining compared to the industry standard C70S6 material.

As part of the development work, engineers from Corus Automotive based in Coventry, UK, used computer simulation techniques to evaluate the fatigue performance of each new material variant and to identify potential mass savings. Corus Automotive specialises in developing innovative vehicle engineering solutions using latest thinking in materials and manufacturing technologies, including advanced CAE simulation techniques. The results demonstrated that SDF could reduce component weight by up to 15 per cent, a benefit they could pass on to their customers to help them improve engine efficiency and meet stringent environmental legislation.

Commenting on the collaboration, Mark Adams, managing director SDF said: “By partnering with Corus and utilising their material knowledge and expertise in computer simulation techniques, we have been able to carry out many iterations in a short space of time to determine optimum con-rod design for our customers.”

Adams continues: “Importantly, we have been able to enhance our credibility with our customers by demonstrating knowledge of a full engineering assessment and as a result we have been able to offer a component with reduced weight, improved performance and reduced manufacturing costs.”

The next stage of collaboration, between Corus and SDF, is already under way with the inclusion of forging design details into a knowledge-based engineering package, adding further to the comprehensive design and assessment capability SDF is now able to offer its customers.